Who is Seo Chae-Hyun? Profile of Korea’s Strongest Lead Climber

Seo Chae-huyn
Name:Seo Chae-Hyun
Nationality:South Korean
Date of BirthNovember 1, 2003
Age: 18
Height:162 cm | 5 ft 2 in
Weight:48kg | 106lbs
Ape Index:N/A

Who is Seo Chae-Hyun?

Seo Chae-Hyun is a competitive lead climber, boulderer and Olympian from South Korea. While still young, she has already accomplished a lot as a competitive climber. At just 16, during her debut season, she claimed the IFSC Lead Season title. Additionally, she qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and placed 8th overall. To top of her first 3 years of competitive climbing, she won the lead world championship in Moscow in 2021.

Chae-hyun or chaehyun (which is her first name) grew up in a climbing family and causing her to start climbing in 2008 at the young age of just 5 years old. Both parents are climbers and her father owns the climbing gym Seo Jong-kuk in Seoul, which is where Seo trained to become one of the best lead climbers in the world.

Seo Chaehyun at her local climbing gym with her dad Seo Jong-kuk in the background
Seo Chaehyun at her local climbing gym with her dad Seo Jong-kuk in the background

Aside from an impressive record at IFSC World Cups, Chaehyun also enjoys outdoor climbing on real rock as she currently has 99 ascents logged on thecrag.com! Later in this profile, we’ll take a look at her many ascents of rocks graded 5.13a and over.


chaehyun seo is sponsored by the north face
chaehyun seo is sponsored by black diamond
chaehyun seo is sponsored by la sportiva

Chaehyun is sponsored by The North Face, Black Diamond and La Sportiva. She is also part of the South Korean sports agency: AllThatSports.


Chaehyun is trained by her father, together they train 4 times a week for around 6 hours each time. In total, she trains 24 hours weekly.

Her training starts with weight training and finishes with 3 hours of climbing.

Chaehyun weight training on her Youtube channel

Climbing Shoes

Chaehyun is sponsored by climbing shoe giant La Sportiva. Let’s look at the models she wears for lead and bouldering.

For lead climbing, Chaehyun wears women’s La Sportiva Solution Comps. These are the comp variant of the iconic solution, designed to be the ideal ‘solution’ for artificial rock.

These are medium-soft climbing shoes with a small midsole in the toe are for edging.

seo chaehyun wears la sportiva solution comps as her climbing shoe for lead climbing

Also interesting: how many climbing shoes do you need?

seo chaehyun wears la sportiva theory comps as her climbing shoe for bouldering

For Bouldering, Chaehyun wears women’s La Sportiva Theory’s, the first shoe La Sportiva designed with bouldering in mind.

These are soft climbing shoes with no midsole.

Fun fact: just like her mentor Kim Ja-in, Chae-hyun walks around competitions in slides underneath her climbing shoes to avoid getting chalk or dirt on them. Swipe the instagram embed to witness this funny sight.

Seo Chae-Hyun Social Media

Chaehyun has a public account on Instagram with 45k+ followers where posts her achievements as well as life updates. Secondary, she has a YouTube channel where she uploads climbing training clips as well as outdoor ascents.

Seo Chaehyun also has a climbing profile on TheCrag.

Chaehyun Competition Placements

During her debut season at the IFSC World Cup in 2019, Seo Chae-Hyun (aged 16) won the overall Season Lead Climbing Title.


In 2021, Chaehyun Seo become the Lead World Champion at the IFSC Climbing World Championship in Moscow, Russia. To secure her victory, she topped EVERY route in the competition and finished higher than her competitors in the final.


IFSC World CupLeadBriançon, France20222
IFSC World CupLeadChamonix, France20223
IFSC World CupLeadInnsbruck, Austria20222
IFSC Climbing World ChampionshipsLeadMoscow, Russia20211
IFSC World CupLeadKranj, Slovenia20212
Asian ChampionshipsLeadBogar, Indonesia20191
Asian ChampionshipsBoulderBogar, Indonesia20191
International Climbing SeriesCombinedGuangzhou, China20193
IFSC World CupLeadInzai, Japan20193
IFSC World CupLeadBriançon, France20191
IFSC World CupLeadXiamen, China20191
IFSC World CupLeadKranj, Slovenia20191
IFSC World CupLeadBriançon, France20191
IFSC World CupLeadChamonix, France20191
IFSC World CupLeadVillars, Switzerland20192
Asian Youth ChampionshipLeadChongqing, China20181
Asian Youth ChampionshipBoulderChongqing, China20182
Source: IFSC

2020 Sport Climbing Olympics Tokyo

Seo qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and landed herself in the finals where she placed 8th.

This was the first installment of sport climbing at the Olympics which had a controversial format: a combination of speed climbing, bouldering, and lead climbing.

This proved difficult for Chae-Hyun who was the only finalist to have trouble breaking the 10-second barrier (which she did at the Olympics when she broke 9.85 seconds).

In the upcoming 2024 Olympics, speed climbing will be a category on its own leaving Bouldering and Lead climbing as a combined event. With this upcoming format, Seo Chae-Hyun will likely be one of the favorites to win a medal.

Speed climbing8th place
Bouldering7th place
Lead climbing2nd place
Final result8th place

Chaehyun Outdoor Ascents

While Chae-Hyun is mostly known for lead climbing competitions on artificial rock, she does have quite a few outdoor ascents (99 in total) listed on thecrag.com.

Many of her ascents are from family trips to Rifle Colorado during the summers of 2017 and 2018 where she made a total of 25 ascents ranging from 5.11 – 5.14d. Other ascents are in Spanish, Greek as well as in South Korean crags.

Chaehyun doesn’t have many recent ascents as she is focusing primarily on training for competitions since she become eligible to compete in IFSC World Cups in 2019. However, Chaehyun does have outdoor aspirations as she told Olympic.com: “I want to travel around the world to climb rocks”. So who knows, Chaehyun might be an outdoor crusher to look out for in the future.

Here are some of her impressive early achievements.

Chae-Hyun onsighted 8a at 11 years old

seo chae-hyun onsighted an 8a at just 11 years old
image credit: 8a.nu

At just 11 years od, Chaehyun made headlines by onsighting the 8a graded route Punto Caramello in Greece. Impressive!!

Chae-Hyun sent 9a at just 14 years old

Seo Chae-Hyun’s current highest outdoor grade achieved is 5.14d (9A), when at just 14 years old, she sent the fitting ‘Bad Girls Club’ while on a family trip to Rifle, Colorado.

Seo Chae-hyun climbing 5.13c at 12 years old.

Below is a list of Chae-Hyun’s most notable outdoor ascents ordered by grade difficulty.

Bad Girls ClubRifle, ColoradoJuly 31, 20185.14d
Power PowerTugu-bawi, South KoreaApril 20215.14c
Waka FlockaRifle, ColoradoAugust 5, 20185.14b
Once Upon a TimeSamcheon-bawi, South KoreaMay 5, 20215.14a
JokerTugu-bawi, South KoreaMarch 31, 20215.14a
Dreams and HopesMaisan, South Korea20215.14a
Simply RedlinedRifle, ColoradoAugust 9, 20185.14a
ZuluRifle, ColoradoAugust 11, 20185.14a
Kalea BorrokaEl Pati, SpainFebruary 6, 20198b+
Under WallTugu-bawi, South KoreaApril 20215.13c
Apocalypse flashRifle, ColoradoJuly 28, 20185.13c
Pati Pa MiEl Pati, SpainFebruary 7, 20198b
SprayathonRifle, ColoradoJuly 26, 20175.13c
RendezspewRifle, ColoradoJuly 24, 20175.13b
Squeel to Sthil OnsightRifle, ColoradoJuly 25, 20175.13b
Deity OnsightRifle, ColoradoAugust 17, 20185.13b
Punto Caramelo OnsightGrande Grotta, GreeceOctober 9, 20158a
Fun de ChichunneGrande Grotta, GreeceSeptember 30, 20158a
Prisa MataEl Pati, SpainJanuary 31, 20197c+
AquilesGran Boveda, Spain July 10, 20147c+
Pump-o-RamaRifle, ColoradoJuly 24, 20175.13a
SpurtatronRifle, ColoradoJuly 29, 20175.13a
Best of the BestSoskal-bawi, South KoreaMay 9, 20155.13a
Sometimes it’s hardSoskal-bawi, South KoreaMarch 14, 20155.13a
For a full list of Seo Chae-Huyn’s ascents, visit TheCrag.